When I first started out in the WordPress game, WordPress was just one of many content management systems. In fact it was seen as a blogging platform and not really as a website CMS. Other tools like Drupal and Joomla were seen as more advanced website systems. I know I certainly preferred Joomla for many years.
But eventually WordPress started to take over (more about that in a future post). And when that happened something cool happened. Back at the start all systems were basically treated the same. They are all essentially a combination of open source PHP code and a back end MySql database so the hosting needs are all the same. Open source Apache server running on a linux OS with some software to enable the website owner or developer to interact with the server – more often than not back in the day it was Plesk or cPanel.
But once WordPress really started to take off, a few smart people realised that WordPress would perform much better with some specific server configurations. My first recollection of a managed hosting provider was WP Engine, and I was super impressed at the time. We had our site on there, it loaded way faster, the caching was all built in, updates were a lot easier, making a staging site was easy and there were guardrails to make sure you didn’t do silly things like install dodgy plugins.
In recent years I’ve been using Cloudways for hosting. No specific reason to move away from WP Engine I just had someone recommend Cloudways for my last site and because it wasn’t just WordPress, I needed a host that could host all of my applications as well as a good WordPress host.
Cloudways is great, it makes running a WordPress site a lot easier. Here are a few specific things I like about Cloudways:
- It has an inbuilt WordPress installer that installs a pre-configured version of WordPress. So you are already starting with a better product than a blank install.
- The server caching features are great and super easy to use.
- The admin interface is super clear and easy to use and get around.
- The support is absolutely outstanding, unbelievably friendly staff available via live chat, the best I’ve seen.
- The staging features are excellent, you can click a button to create a staging site right from your live site with automated features like password protecting the site and the ability to push changes back to the live site.
- The backup process is excellent allowing you to automatically run backups to a different server (very important), or if you want backups locally on the server you can do that at a click of a button.
- You can have multiple applications on the server, not just WordPress.
- You can choose the actual raw infrastructure where the site is hosted. Mine are on Digital Ocean but you can easily change it to AWS or others.
- You can easily scale the server in a matter of minutes if you are expecting a lot of traffic or if your needs change over time (this may be the best feature).
A cheaper shared server definitely still has it’s place in the WordPress ecosystem but if you are running a decent size business, I’d definitely be looking at some sort of dedicated WordPress managed host and I’m a fan of Cloudways.
I saw recently the company sold to Digital Ocean for $350m so I guess I’m not the only one!
Regardless of who you choose, managed hosting has some specific benefits you might want to consider:
- Performance Optimisation: Managed WordPress hosts typically have server configurations and infrastructure specifically optimised for WordPress. This results in faster loading times, better website performance, and improved user experience compared to shared hosting environments. All very important for a business website.
- Better Security: Managed WordPress hosts often provide robust security measures to protect your website from common vulnerabilities and attacks. They may offer features like automatic malware scanning, regular backups, firewall protection, and proactive security monitoring, reducing the risk of security breaches. The last thing you want is your site being hacked trust me!
- Automatic Updates: Managed WordPress hosting providers handle WordPress core, plugin, and theme updates for you. This ensures that your website is always running the latest and most secure versions, reducing the chances of compatibility issues or vulnerabilities. This one I’m on the fence about because generally I prefer to not run updates automatically (I wrote about that in this post), but that’s personal preference. If you want it to be set and forget and you’ve got a simple site, you might like this feature.
- Expert Support: Managed WordPress hosts usually offer specialised support from WordPress experts who have in-depth knowledge of the platform. They can assist with WordPress-specific issues, answer technical questions, and provide guidance on optimising your website. This can be a big one if you don’t already have a WordPress support partner like WP Master.
- Scalability and Resource Allocation: Managed WordPress hosting plans often come with scalable resources, allowing your website to handle high traffic without performance degradation. The hosting infrastructure can efficiently allocate resources to accommodate traffic spikes and ensure optimal performance.
- WordPress-Specific Features: Managed WordPress hosts may offer additional features and tools specifically designed for WordPress users. These can include staging environments for testing changes, one-click WordPress installations, easy site cloning, Git integration, and developer-friendly workflows.
That said there are some benefits to shared hosting too, namely:
- Cost-Effective: Shared hosting plans are typically more affordable compared to managed WordPress hosting. This makes them suitable for individuals or small businesses with limited budgets.
- Ease of Use: Shared hosting is generally straightforward to set up, making it accessible to beginners or users with limited technical knowledge. The hosting provider manages server maintenance and updates, allowing you to focus on building and managing your website. I’m actually a big fan of cPanel and if you’ve used it before you might not want to move to another platform.
- Flexibility for Multiple Websites: Shared hosting plans often allow you to host multiple websites under a single account, making it cost-effective and convenient if you have multiple small websites or blogs. Some WordPress hosts are just for 1 site.
- Wide Application Support: Shared hosting is not limited to WordPress websites. It can support a variety of CMS platforms and applications, giving you more flexibility if you need to host different types of websites. This can be a big thing. Cloudways isn’t just a WordPress host so you don’t have this problem but some dedicated managed WordPress hosts will only allow you to host WordPress sites.
Ultimately, the choice between managed WordPress hosting and shared hosting depends on your specific needs and budget. If you have a decent size business and you prioritise performance, security, specialised support, and ease of use for your WordPress website, managed WordPress hosting is a recommended option. However, if cost-effectiveness and general website hosting flexibility are more important to you, shared hosting can be a suitable choice.